Zina Saeed

I am a Professional Liability Underwriter working for HDI Global Specialty. Thank you for the chance to tell you about myself.

My family and I moved to the UK from Iraq when I was 7 years old. I remember my first day of school like it was yesterday, I felt like an alien, not understand a word of English or having any reference points. From that point I have always been fascinated with the sensation of being an outsider looking in but I must stress that I loved school as a kid and I read law at Queen Mary University. Luck more than wisdom led me to insurance industry due to various family commitments i was looking for a role that would give me financially stability but where I would not have to work 18 hour days and could take time off. I started working for Chubb and immediately fell in love with the industry. I was excited to move to Hiscox and get some Lloyd’s of London experience, I managed professional liability claims for large U.S based professional services firms, much like the ones I had thought about working for while I was a student. Again looking through the window at how these firms were operating, what was going well, what was going not so well leading to their insurance carriers paying hundreds of millions of dollars was really a thrill.

During my tenure at Hiscox, I met my husband Michael, an American from Chicago office working in London on secondment. for 6 months. When it was time for him to leave we decided I would soon follow, and so I moved to Chicago just before Thanksgiving 2009 and we were married shortly thereafter.

In Chicago I began working for newly formed W.R. Berkley Company, Berkley Select, looking to specialise in Large Law and Accounting Firms they saw the value of hiring someone with London Market experience to manage claims for these clients, most of whom I already knew intimately as well as our quota share market participants/competitors from Lloyd’s. It was a wonderful experience being closer to the clients, travelling around the U.S. and being part of a newly formed small company. At the same time I was starting my family and had 2 gorgeous daughters by the end of 2012.

Shortly after I returned from my second maternity leave my boss approached me with the idea of relocating back to London to start writing a reverse flow book of business via a Lloyd’s syndicate. It would mean moving to Underwriting side of the business which I had never done before but also meant coming home to my family who I was missing tremendously, particularly as a new mum. Most of the senior underwriters I was working with had a legal and claims background like me, they assured me it would be a great transition and would be there to support me every step of the way so we decided to go for it. We left as a pair but we came back to London in 2014 as family of 4.

I recently spent some time working for a Tysers, an independent London Market wholesale Broker which gave me a fascinating view from the other side of the deal and the opportunity to speak to clients much more intimately about their insurance needs, concerns and views of the market. I feel very lucky to have completed this trifecta, claims, underwriting and broking.

I started at HDI Global Specialty in August of 2020 during the pandemic. I specialise in Underwriting Large U.S. Professional Services Firms as well as distressed risks. Starting at a new firm, while remote working and home-schooling has been a huge challenge but has also opened up massive opportunities for me to see my clients on a much more regular basis, albeit virtually. This shared experience has led them to open up more and the windows into their organisations are opening ever wider for curious underwriters to peer into!